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Deveron Projects

The Town Is The Venue
What is the 50/50 Principle? What is the 50/50 Principle?

Ben Macfadyen

300 Years to Grow

2015 – 2016

Memory, native to this valley, will spread over it like a grove, and memory will grow into legend, legend into song, song into sacrament.
Wendell Berry
Creating a story that will still be told in 300 years

Storyteller Ben Macfadyen joined us in winter 2015/16 to build on the legacy of the White Wood. He responded to the lifespan of the trees, aspiring to create a story that will still be told in 300 years time, when the oaks are fully grown.

Storytelling has always been a fundamental part of human nature. By passing on information and histories, as well as values and beliefs, through the generations we have accumulated a rich heritage that forms an integral part of our identity. With environmental concerns coming to the forefront of the global debate, however, it must be asked if we will be able to continue to build on these traditions. The COP21 Climate Change Negotiations in Paris sought to create a global agreement to prevent the irreversible 2 degrees rise in temperature. The outcome of these negotiations has had a mixed reception and the long term affect this has for future generations’ remains unclear. This uncertainty poses the question, can we create a new aural tradition that can be carried into the future, and if so what kind of future will this be?


By drawing on the people of Huntly’s personal experiences of woodland, Ben created a tale that contemplates the ideas behind the wood, linking peace and ecology. Conceived as a living monument to peace by artist Caroline Wendling, the wood symbolically unites nations by bringing together German oaksgrown from acorns from Joseph Beuys 7000 Oaks, with French stone and over 1500 native Scottish plants. Ben brought ecological issues, inherent in the very nature of the wood, to the forefront of his project by linking Huntly to the global climate change discussion. He cycled, with others, from Huntly to Paris for COP21 bringing with him an oak sapling that he planted at Murs-à-pêches. Making this journey for environmental justice in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks united the struggle we face for both peace and environmental sustainability. Ben also led the event COP21: Huntly, which allowed the local community to join in the global discussion of action in response to climate change.

The story was first told on 23 January 2016. Ben collaborated with Moroccan musician Omar Afif, who together led a group on musical procession to the White Wood for the performance, it was also told on 28 May at the official launch of the White Wood

Ben returned to Huntly in October 2016 to work on the legacy of the story. Working with many community groups, including the Gordon schools, scouts, churches and care homes, Ben focused on the individual perspectives within his story and used them to reach different people. Ben worked with participants on what they thought of the final story and generated material surrounding peace and ecology. The legacy of the story has been further promoted through a publication representing the story, its participants and its future.


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